Paint it right! How to paint Whiskers


Cat is one of the most favorite paintings of some animal lovers, aside from wild animal, dog, birds. Perhaps we can say that the crucial element in a great cat portrait (aside from having painting a cat’s fur in the right direction) is painting correct whiskers. Painting whiskers on a cat is not as simply as painting a bunch of thin curvy lines coming out of cat’s face near the mouth. You can put cat’s whiskers in four places, in rows along side the mouth, in a group above the inner corner of the eye, in a small group on the cheek and few long bristles below the lower jaw. Each whisker grows out by itself; they don’t start at the same point.

Actually, you can see four rows of whiskers on either side of the mouth. These whiskers are arranged like bricks in a wall, for example: they alternate and directly above each other. If you have a cat or a picture of it, you may want to look it for yourself so you know what I am talking with.

Don’t forget to count how many whiskers there are and try to estimate the length of each whisker. As you observe, the length of each whiskers are not the same as they fall out and new ones grow. Try to notice also its thickness; you will see that it comes out in different thickness and they become thinner from base to tip.

I listed below some tips to help you in painting whiskers:

1. I suggest you use a rigger brush for painting a cat’s whiskers because it’s thin and long that is perfect for painting lines.

2. Instead of painting a line, scrape a line into the wet paint using the back of a brush, a fingernail, or sharp corner of a painting knife. This painting technique is also known as graffito technique.

3. As for using water color to create white whiskers, try masking these out with the use of masking fluid or frisket before you begin with painting.

You should remember the two important things for painting a realistic fur on a cat. These are:

  1. Painting the fur of the cat in the direction of its growth or from base to tip.
  2. For the fur to be lying in the right direction on each part of the cat’s face and body. You can use fur map for this, you can buy them in the market. This fur map tells you where the direction of a cat’s fur grows in different parts of the face as well as its body. Actually this kind of map is deceptively simple painting tool because it is quite simple to create but requires self discipline when using.

It is quite usual that when you’re busy painting a cat, you become carried away and set aside the direction of the fur. By doing so, you don’t even notice that you’re not paying attention with the markings of an individual cat, or whether the fur is long or not, you’re looking at the overall direction of fur in a specific part of the body or face that is similar in all cats. In short, it’s all about proper observation! Let say, does the fur on the cat’s nose go towards the ear or is it down toward the mouth? Or does the cat have eyelashes? How about which way do the hairs inside the cat’s ear grow?

I suggest you make an outline drawing of a cat, you ca use a photo for reference too if you like and make a note of all places where the fur changes direction. You may find it hard to determine which is which by just looking to a photo. In this case, go take a look at your cat. Whenever you begin painting your cat’s portrait, put this fur map you made all by yourself in a place where you can easily look at it for your reference.

Do you like animal painting? Why not also try contemporary painting? You can use any subject for this kind of modern painting. Let say for abstract art why not try to paint your favorite pet or animal in an abstract painting look!

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